Chances are, most of your employees will take some vacation time this summer. And they should, says Gwen Gulick, an associate director at Harvard Business Publishing , a company that partners with clients to create leadership development solutions. "After this winter especially, we've all earned it."
But you may find it difficult to keep those employees focused and productive in the weeks leading up to — and following — their time off.
Gulick suggests these six tricks to avoid the summer slack off:
Offer flexible schedules. Consider allowing employees to leave early to take advantage of the weather once a week, provided all of their work is done first, she says. "People often get highly motivated and efficient in order to take advantage of a perk like this."
Set the stage with clear goals. "Even in flip-flop season, work still needs to be done," Gulick says. Managers should work with their team to set specific goals that need to be achieved each week and for the summer, and be sure to check in regularly on progress.
Listen to your employees. "This is a great time to take a temperature check on the year's progress thus far," she says. Sit down with your team to discuss what has worked and what hasn't, and what you can do to meet goals for the remainder of the year. "The more they feel their voice is being heard, the more engaged they will be in their jobs moving forward."
Take advantage of the nicer weather. Being outdoors lowers stress and can have a really positive impact on team dynamics. "Try holding a group brainstorm outside, eating lunch with an employee at an outdoor cafe, or having a walking meeting," Gulick suggests.
Mix things up. Keep your staff excited and challenged by giving them new and different projects to work on. "This can give them the chance to try something new, which can help them to build important skills and therefore improve your business," she says.
Offer exciting learning opportunities. It may seem that it's not worth offering sessions when so many people are on vacation, "but we've found that those in the office generally have less scheduling conflicts and are looking for learning opportunities," Gulick says.
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